Many of us don’t understand power surges and don’t know how to protect our expensive equipment from them. Here is a quick guide to answer all of your questions about power surges: What are they? Where do they start? How can you protect against them?
What is a Power Surge?
Power surges happen when there is an unexpected spike in the voltage, current, or transferred energy supplied through an electrical line. Although these surges are fast and have a short duration of only a few millionths of a second, they do carry tens of thousands of volts.
What Causes Surges?
Most common causes of power surges are:
- Downed power lines
- Short circuits
- Tripped circuit breakers
- Sudden change in electricity usage or malfunctions by a nearby factory
- Transition of an on/off cycle of a large appliance on the same power line (refrigerator or laser printer)
- Lightning storms within one mile (most powerful)
- Inductive spikes
- Electromagnetic pulses (EMP) with electromagnetic energy distributed typically up to the 100 KHz and 1 frequency range.
What Damage Does a Power Surge Do?
The voltage spike is enough to fry circuit boards, crash hard drives and ruin any expensive equipment that is wired in your outlet.
Smaller, more common surges can do invisible permanent damage to your technology, including shortening the life of your electronics. An enormous surge that accompanies a lightning strike could immediately and adequately kill your technology, whether or not it was powered on at the time.
How to Protect Technology from Surges:
Use surge protectors and power strips with surge protection to defend your devices against small voltage spikes. Surge protectors will divert any excess power into the ground wire.
What to Look for When Buying a Surge Protector:
Always look at the joule rating. This shows you how much power the surge protector can handle before its collapses under a power surge. The higher the number, the better. A rating of 600 joules is a great start, but when you begin plugging in expensive electronics, then you should start looking around 2000 joules for more protection.
The higher the number gives you more than just electronics protection, it also gives you a great warranty that the surge protector manufacturers will include. You may pay around $50 to $100 for high end surge protectors, but warranties will cover between $10,000 to $500,000 worth of equipment.
Also, the clamping voltage is what tells you what voltage will cause the MOVs to conduct electricity to the ground line. A lower clamping voltage indicates better protection. Generally, a clamping voltage of more than 400V is too high.
Most surge protectors include an indicator light that is very useful in telling you if the protection components are functioning. All MOVs will burn out after repeated power surges, which will tell you its time to purchase a new power surge.
Last, always look for the response time. A longer response time tells you that your equipment will be exposed to the surge for a greater amount of time. For the best product, look for a response time in less than one nanosecond.
Some Excellent Surge Protector Options That Exceed All of the Above Requirements:
Hides outlets and wires from children, pets and guests. Will guard your expensive appliances and electronics from a power surge of up to 4,260 joules. Included a $300,000 warranty on all connected electronics.
Energy conservative and cost efficient! Has 6 outlets (4 that are in correspondence with the energy saving remote) and a joules rating of 2,100 joules.
A travel size surge protector that you can take with you anywhere! Includes three AC outlets and two USB charging ports for your iPOD, phone, laptop or camera. Comes with a $75,000 Connected Equipment Warranty.
Protect your expensive entertainment system devices with this organized and attractive surge protector with multi-colored outlets. Included are ten outlets of all different colors for easy visibility. Has an energy dissipation of 3,150 joules and a 15Amp circuit breaker for overload protection.
Most sophisticated and unique design with a fail-safe circuit and audible alarm that provides advanced protection against power surges. Thanks to the way this surge protector is designed, it will allow you some new ways of managing your cables.
Great for the holidays and decorations! Perfect for placing under the Christmas tree to plug in all of your lights. Unique design plugs in 6 large plugs while conserving space!